Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Work of M.C. Escher

I was fortunate to attend an M.C. Escher Exhibit a few years back at the Akron Art Museum, (One South High St., Akron, OH) and thoroughly enjoyed it. The exhibit was fascinating in an artistic/mathematical mixed-up ball of perception, perspective, and shading.  Having loved his work since my college days, I was totally unaware they weren’t drawings, but intricate woodcuts. I decided I needed to do a little research on the man behind the tessellations.

Maurits Cornelis Escher was born in Leeuwarden, Friesland in the Netherlands on June 17, 1898.  He was the youngest child of a prominent civil engineer, George Escher, and his second wife, Sara.  As a child, M.C. was sickly and had a chronic skin infection.  He failed second grade and was put in a special school.  He did not do well in this new school, but liked to play the piano. His father wanted him to follow in his engineering footsteps, and although M.C. tried, he much preferred and was more suited to the graphic arts.


In 1922, making a living as a graphic artist, he traveled through Italy and Spain and was captivated by the intricate, detailed Mediterranean designs based on geometrical symmetries with interlocking repetitive patterns. While in Italy, M.C. met Jetta Umiker, and they were married in 1924.  They lived in Rome and had three sons. In 1935, M.C. found the political climate under Mussolini to be stiflingly oppressive, so he moved his family to Switzerland, then to Brussels, and then the Netherlands, but M.C. always said he missed beautiful Italy.

The cold, rainy weather allowed M.C. to stay inside and work on his art. He is especially known for his mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs,  and mezzotints. for someone who did so poorly in school and had no formal mathematical training, M.C. was a technical virtuoso in the field of optical illusions.  He was awarded the Knighthood of the Order of the Orange Nassau in 1955.  M.C. passed away on March 27, 1972 in a retirement home for artists.  He was 73.

All information and photos are from: - Official website
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